Rand Paul and Susan Collins are on opposite ends of the Republican Party when it comes to health care, yet somehow the two senators both left this weeks Obamacare repeal meetings with President Donald Trump thinking hes on their side.
Paul wants to gut as much of Obamacare as possible and recalled after his one-on-one meeting that the president realizes that moderates have gotten everything so far on the healthcare talks. The centrist Collins, on the other hand, left a larger Tuesday gathering with the president sure that he still wants to make the bills healthcare offerings more robust, explaining that he did leave me with that impression.
He understands the need to bring prices down, which I think is where Rand is at, said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). With Susan, he is showing the compassionate side for the working poor.
Attendees said that Trump seemed intensely focused on getting a bill passed and is acutely aware that action on healthcare will lead to future momentum for tax reform and infrastructure investment. He did, however, leave left some senators with the impression that he didnt fully understand the specifics of disagreement among Republicans. He told the senators that he wanted a deal and he understood all their concerns but made clear the details mattered less than the conclusion: A win for him and his party.
He runs a good meeting. But he doesnt know anything, said one source briefed on the encounter. It was like a CEO with his subordinates.
Trump also was repeatedly confronted by angry senators over a White House-sanctioned outside group that planned to attack Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) for opposing the current healthcare bill. The president signaled that he understood that the Heller ad was not good for their relationships.
"He said: I get it, I get it," said another person familiar with the meeting.
If Trumps goal was to soothe the partys differences, however, the president may have accidentally accentuated some of them with his unusually placid demeanor. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is pressing urgently for more generous Medicaid benefits and funding to fight opioid addiction, said on CNN that the president was right there with, I think, my line of thinking.
The bill needs to be more of a repeal bill. And I think the presidents open to that, Paul said, arguing the opposite case. Hes asking conservatives: What can we do to make the bill more conservative and a repeal bill?